Executive Coaching and the Recovering Executive
“What to do with a client that may have addiction issues”
Help the addict/executive build a plan for recovery
Getting commitment from the client
After the first meeting and the story session, as homework assignment I hand out the New Client Questionnaire. I use one adapted from Jeffrey Auerbach’s book “Personal and Executive Coaching, The Complete Guide for Mental Health Professionals” . I like Dr Auerbach’s up front questions about the client’s goals for coaching: here are some examples.
1. What do you want to be certain to obtain from this coaching relationship?
2. What two steps could you take, immediately, that would help you move forward?
3. Are you ready to be coached?
4. Are you willing to stop or change my behaviors that are interfering with your progress in recovery
By introducing the client to Dr Auerbach’s questionnaire, they are able to begin to focus on what they want, which is the first concrete layer of the foundation of their recovery plan.
How does a coaching client build a plan for recovery?
In this phase I use the Grow Model, to further develop the client’s Recovery Plan. The Grow Model was developed by James Manktelow in 2005.
GROW is an acronym for:
1. Goals, establishing goals through the use of various instruments
2. Reality compare the reality of the situation
3. Options, explore the client’s options
4. Wrap up or Write the Recovery Plan (Donahue, 2007 & Manktelow, 2005)
The client has set the first few Goals, by completing Auerbach’s New Client Questionnaire.
Confronting Reality- Motivational interviewing and using the results from the Cognitive Distortions Survey are very important in this process. Discuss what is happening that makes the client not achieve their goals in the past. Break down the instances and ask:
1) When does this happen?
2) What effect does it have on you or others?
3) What is really stopping you?
4) Do you know anyone who has achieved their recovery goal?
5) What can you learn from them?
Brainstorm with the client on their options. Ask -don’t tell the client- about their options, this empowers them to ensure their choices. You can ask:
1. How can you move toward the goal?
2. What has worked in the past?
3. What could you do as a first step?
4. What else could you do?
5. What would happen if you did nothing?
Writing the Recovery Plan
In the next week, I encourage the client to begin to develop their recovery plan. Most often the client needs to be exposed to role models with long term recovery, people in their therapy groups, people in the 12 step meeting rooms, sober friends, or their sponsor. It is important for the coaching client to hear their stories and recognize the path they have taken on the road to recovery. I invite the coaching client to speak with these people to gather recovery plan information. Then we discuss what are their Recovery Plan goals are and why they are important?
1. First, we date the plan (Plans are meant to evolve and change, it is important for the client to see their progress)
2. Have the client name the change(s) they want to make (e.g. stay in college, avoid self-cutting, stay away from drugs and control over spending).
3. Where does this goal (stay away from drugs) fit in with their personal priorities at the moment?
4. What obstacles do they expect to meet?
5. How will they overcome them?
6. How committed are they to their Recovery Plan goals?
In developing a recovery plan a client will often ask the recovery coach for advice. During this process, I using motivational interviewing techniques, allowing the client to judge how appropriate the coach’s suggestions are for them. I offer not one, but a cluster of options which will allow the client to choose the suitable options for their recovery plan. For example a client often asks “What do you think I should do?”
I can respond by saying “Well, I see possibly three things you could do,
1. you can swear off alcohol completely starting today,
2. you can see if alcohol is a gateway drug or a trigger leading to your sexual acting-out by choosing not to drink when you are on a business trip,
3. you can continue drinking and acting out sexually with partners other than your spouse.”
Offering several solutions allows the client to see the options more clearly and decide which one or more options he/she has. Clients may bite off too much to chew, offer the client the opportunity to minimize the plan a bit so goals can be achieved. Lastly, establish some timelines.
Throughout coaching relationships, a client may regress to the beginning phases of this plan. Consistently, a coach must ask the difficult questions, reminding the client of their commitment, over and over again: “How committed are you to your recovery goals and your recovery plan? What do you want to achieve? What is really stopping you?”
During the creation of the Recovery Plan, the addict is looking “in”. This inward focus is very natural for the addict. Most addicts are so self centered that they have never looked outside of themselves to see “anything” less likely the consequences of their being buzzed for the last fifteen years. It is important to allow the addict to look in and then, to look out to see the consequences of his/her addiction.
In keeping with this concept, this third question:
Is there any collateral damage resulting from the addiction?
is usually asked when the ‘topic’ of collateral damage comes up. It will come up in the form of their teenager exploding at them, saying “You are never here!” or a co-worker appearing defensive during a meeting with the coaching client. Allowing the client to see consequences is the most important tool for the coach to use yet, the timing of this stage is never within our control. I assure you, the addict will see the consequences of their behavior, as coaches, we just have to wait for the opportunity or the ‘learning moment’
When the addict recognizes the consequences that are a result of their addiction(s), it is time to add onto their recovery plan, the coach invites the addict to look around at his/her surroundings, and ask:
What is the collateral damage resulting from your addiction?